“Christians are people learning who they are in Christ. We are being taught about our new identity. Do you see how deeply this new identity affects the life of a community? I heard a teacher say that if people were taught more about who they are, they wouldn’t have to be told what to do. It would come naturally. When we see religious communities spending most of their time trying to convince people not to sin, we are seeing a community that has missed the point. The point isn’t sin management. The point is who we are now.
Often communities of believers in the New Testament are identified as ‘saints.’ The word ‘saints’ is a translation of the Greek word ‘hagios,’ which means ‘holy or set apart ones.’ Those who are ‘in Christ.’ Not because of what they have done, but because of what God has done. There is nothing we can do, and there is nothing we
ever could have done, to earn God’s favour. We already have it.”
What if we are approaching the Scriptures counterintuitively to how they were meant to be read, savoured, experienced, and entered into?
2 Timothy 3 reminds us that the Scriptures are “God-breathed,” while Hebrews 4 contains the provocative idea that the “Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” If this is but a minute sample size of the perspective that Scripture takes on itself, why do we so frequently dismiss the power inherent behind these words?
While many valid points could be made for the diminishment of Scripture in our lives, the fact remains: Scripture – and God’s breath within it – could have a more formational, lasting impact on us than it often does. Ironically, this is often particularly the case for those who are most familiar with the Scriptures themselves (and I am speaking of myself foremost here).
Which leads me to wonder the following: Is there a veritable treasure chest within the Scriptures that I have somehow overlooked, or missed more recently, in my journey of formation unto Christ? I want to postulate a simple idea: The Scriptures, and the New Testament epistles (letters) in particular, contain a wealth of formational truth that can develop and mature one’s identity in Christ like nothing else. What if we deliberately sat with – sat underneath – sat ‘on top of’ – these powerful letters, and chose to enter into the formational journey (a journey of remembrance in who we were always intended to be in God, a ‘shedding’ of who we are no longer, and an embracing of our new selves – our ‘sainthood’ in Christ –) with renewed vigour?
Simply put: What if we read these letters as if they were addressed to our true selves (‘saints in Christ’), from a trusted friend (Paul our mentor), inspired by the loving heart of God himself?
I wonder how much we would change, and change for the good.
Listen to the Podcast